Avid reader and magazine publisher, Lisa Lucas has been named the new Executive Director Of The National Book Foundation. Lucas is only the third executive director and first African American woman in the history of the literary organization which was formally established in 1986.

Its first executive director, Neil Baldwin, served until 2003. His successor, Harold Augenbraum, announced he would be retiring in the spring. Lucas will begin her position on Monday, March 14.

According to the New York Times, apart of Lucas’ initiatives as Executive Director will be overseeing the inclusion of more women and authors of color as recipients of the National Book Awards. The coveted prize has been honoring literary excellence since 1950.

“Readers are everything, readers are everyone. It should be about building one big massive audience that’s reflective of where we live” said Lucas.

Her literary background includes serving as the publisher of Guernica, an arts magazine with an international and often political focus. Prior to that, the 36-year-old worked for several nonprofit cultural institutions, including the Tribeca Film Festival and the Steppenwolf Theater in Chicago.

In an interview with NPR, she shared her excitement for her new position, “It has just been an ecstatic joy to be able to do work in service of readers…it just feels like an extraordinary opportunity to build on the work they’ve done, and to keep figuring out ways to engage readers.”


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